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Staying Connected – High Tech in the High Country

working remotelyBy: Bill Peppler

Recently, while on vacation with my family in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, I got to thinking about how technology has changed the way we stay connected with our offices. As driven professionals, it is only natural for us to feel a bit detached from the businesses that we put so much time and effort into on a daily basis, especially when we are away for an extended period of time.

In the past, my standard vacation routine included a daily phone check-in with the office to catch up on any issues or occurrences that may have popped up while I was away. Beyond that daily check-in, I relied on co-workers to contact me in the event that something important came up. On some occasions, that did not occur, and I would return to the office with an unexpected major undertaking to attend to.

In recent years, however, advances in technology have alleviated much of the worry associated with that detached feeling. With the widespread adoption of smart phones, tablet devices, and video conferencing software, and with telecommunications networks seemingly improving by the day, the barriers to staying connected have all but been eliminated.

A recent blog post on GIGAOM.com, written by guest writer Eric Kintz of Logitech, touched on a similar topic, the evolution of the “new office”. In the piece, he notes that “the new office is an airport lounge on a tablet, a midnight video call on the kitchen counter, a shared table at the office or a collaboration pod for ad hoc meetings.” How ironic it is that I read his post from my iPad, just before checking my e-mails and approving a few documents, all while overlooking the mountains from the porch of my vacation home.

Now look, I understand that a vacation is a time to relax and regenerate yourself, to disconnect if you will. Staying connected can be a slippery slope, and I, for one, don’t plan to allocate a big percentage of my vacation time to staying up with office ongoings. However, as a passionate business person who truly cares about the needs of my clients, consultants, and co-workers, I feel better knowing that the connectivity is there, and that I can be reached in a number of ways no matter where I am.

So, what are your thoughts on this subject? How do you stay connected with work while you are away, if at all? How much connectivity is too much, and where do the lines between personal and work time become blurred? We want to hear from you. Join the conversation by commenting below.

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